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Teddy McBear got his name because he was from a long line of noble Scottish bears. In 2000 he was bought in Edinburgh as a Valentine’s Day present. He was to live the first year and a half of his life in Copenhagen where he devoted his time to helping abandoned and abused toy animals. In July 2001 he moved permanently to Dublin where he very soon set up the Toy Animals’ Rights of Finglas group (TARF). All the other bears know and respect his strong views on the treatment of toy animals. He works very hard in this area and his long term aim is to see the foundation of a TA branch of Amnesty International.
McBear has never doubted that this is his role in life. A short time ago however, Olivia, one of the other bears (a sea bear since she was bought on a boat), said that none of them really knew who they were as they had been taken away from their birth places at a very early age. This puzzled McBear. He knew who he was: one of the travelling bears. But he remembered sitting in a shop in Prince’s Street in Edinburgh, he remembered being bought and given a name, but nothing before that. Well, there was only one way to find out.
One sunny June morning the bears took a Ryanair flight to Edinburgh and a taxi to Prince’s Street. Roger got sidetracked by the beautiful castle overlooking the street. “I always feel I should be living in a castle”, he said. McBear and Bamse (the oldest of the bears) looked at each other. They had heard this type of thing before. “Oh look, there’s a toy shop” said Bamse, “let’s ask if they remember McBear”.
On the way they passed a tourist shop and Bamse noticed some small bear-sized kilts in the window. Bamse has an extensive wardrobe and loves new clothes so he insisted they go in. To their disappointment the sales assistant said that the kilts were made for beer cans or coke cans. Bamse looked so disappointed that the assistant let the bears try on the kilts. Bamse and Roger left the shop wearing new kilts. “Why didn’t you but a kilt McBear” said Roger. “You’re the Scottish bear”. McBear just shrugged his shoulders. He could not say why, but something did not feel right.
When they finally go to the place where McBear had been bought disaster struck. The shop was now a branch of Starbucks. “Well, I guess I’ll just never know” said McBear. “Don’t give up yet’, said Roger. “We’ll ask around”. This was the start of a long day. They tried every bear shop they passed but all the bears were too young to remember McBear or know anything about his history. After several hours they reached the Castle at the top of the Royal Mile. That was a long way for their tiny legs. Just outside the castle walls a man dressed in a kilt exactly like Bamse’s (only much bigger) was playing the bagpipes. The bears stopped to listen. When the performance was over the piper came over to talk to them. “Are you a Stuart”, he asked Bamse. “That’s Royal Stuart Tartan you’re wearing”. “No’ said Bamse, I’m not even Scottish, but McBear here is, he’s here to find his roots”. “Well said the man, I know just who can help you do that”.
The bears followed the piper into the castle. Roger got very excited. This was exactly the type of place he always felt at home in. They passed the castle tourist shop and into the castle itself, down steps and down a long corridor. The piper knocked on a big wooden door. “Enter” said a voice, and in they went. An old bear sat at a desk. “This is McDonald, the Royal Bear Historian of Scotland. If anyone can tell you about the bears of Scotland, it is him”.
Before anyone could say anything McDonald got off his chair and came around his desk to them. “Don’t tell me”, he said. “You are a McBear”. “You know my family” gasped McBear. “Oh yes, I do” said McDonald.
For the next two hours McBear listened to the most amazing stories he had ever heard. Throughout Scottish history McBears had been the bears of the kings and queens of Scotland. They had a brave and noble history. Ferocious McBear had fought with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn. Edwina McBear had been a bear in waiting to Mary Queen of Scots and had stayed loyally by her side right up to the end. Jacobite McBear had been with Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden and had only escaped with him thanks to the heroism of Flora McDonald. “The family to which my ancestors have always belonged” said McDonald proudly.
McBear was stunned; Bamse was impressed; Roger was not too pleased. “Look at the time” he said. “We have a plane to catch”. McBear thanked McDonald and shook his paw. “Come back soon”, said McDonald, “we have so many things to talk about”. “If I can take time off from my work with TARF” said McBear. Minutes later they were in a taxi on the way to the airport.
Bamse was very quiet on the journey home. McBear was thoughtful as he watched the east coast of Ireland come into view. He saw the Wicklow mountains to the south and Howth Head to the North. Just a few miles from the airport was Finglas where he lived and had his office. “I hope you won’t leave us and go to live in Scotland” said Bamse. “You would be a noble bear and live in the castle”. “McBear smiled. He knew now why it all had felt strange this morning. “I’m proud of my ancestors” he said. They were brave and passionate bears. But I am passionate too, passionate about the cause of abused bears everywhere, but particularly here in Dublin, because this is where I belong now. This is home” And with that he unbuckled his seat belt and marched swiftly off the plane. There was much work to be done.